Thursday, 22 March 2012
Days Of Hunger.
110 Minutes. Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci & Donald Sutherland. Director: Gary Ross . Screenplay: Garry Ross
The world finally gets to watch what we've all been waiting for. Cult fans of Suzanne Collins classic read are finally fed with 'The Hunger Games' and they needn't be hungry anymore. The one film that can make young book/cinema worms close their 'Twilight' and 'Harry Potter' novels and leave other cinema releases starved for gate receipts is here. This cinematic event is the most hotly and highly anticipated films of the year. Right now 'The Hunger Games' has taken over 'The Avengers' and believe it or not even 'The Dark Knight Rises' in hype and excitement. Now the worlds box offices are next.
OK this writer admits he hasn't read the book. Somewhere between autobiographies and magazines I've missed the bandwagon. Still going in to this picture blind offers the opportunity for a fresh, unbiased perspective and what a reel turner this was. Genuinely this story is the truth. Its an ascending tall tale of tremendous reach and depth, as this survival of the fittest, 'Battle Royale' really comes out fighting, taking bow and arrow shots at everything from reality television to the reality of modern day society. Now this writer really wants to read the book. Cover to cover because this film is classic by the chapter, scene by scene.
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss shows more moxie and acting abilities then her turn as Mystique in 'X-Men: First Class' with another top rate performance leading the way with super-charged character and emotion. Along with heart-filled performances from love interests Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) and Gale played by Liam Hemsworth (part of the next great acting family), Lawrence is the young, hot future of acting. In fact from the most loved (Rue played beautifully by Amandla Stenberg) to hated (Cato played perfectly by Alexander Ludwig with hate and loathing) tributes of these games of hunger, new acting kids are made on the block. Established stars Elisabeth Banks and legends Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland bring their influential inspiration to some iconic characters too, but the classic turns come from some seemingly ageless and listlessly talented 50 year olds.
Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz mentor and style these kids, showing that this isn't just a young persons game. The ever great Harrelson comes off his award worthy small ('Game Change') and silver ('Rampart') screen turns to show he really is one of the most versatile and therefore best actors around today. Put him in the top ten. Chart topping musician Lenny Kravitz also shows us he rocks the screen too. After 'Precious' time and his daughter Zoe's own appearance alongside Lawrence in 'X-Men', Kravitz shows he's heaven sent styling as character favourite Cinna. No wonder he didn't have to audition...this guy can act.
Take all the actors attributed, all the directing districts if suspense, shock, silence, tension, twists and turns what you are left with is the future of mainstream movie dominance. Even 'The Hobbit' may have a hard time becoming the lord of the rings as 'The Hunger Games' looks to ring the changes in cinema today. Sure some of the darkest and desperate elements of the book are skimmed through, but even when this movie doesn't go exactly by the book it still flips the script in the right way.
From terrifying prophecies to thrilling set-pieces one of the most read and talked about books is brought to life. No wonder this film was greeted in cinemas with cheers as round the world applause and surely awards are making their way. Even in true blockbuster year for movies and bestselling time for books this is the story that's getting told and told. From word of to the horses mouth, people aren't talking about much else. There can only be one winner now and more than the odds are in this films favour. Let the games begin. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Wednesday, 21 March 2012
A Hidden Gem.
110 Minutes. Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster & Giovanni Ribisi. Director: Baltasar Kormákur. Screenplay: Aaron Guzikowski
'The Hunger Games', 'The Avengers' and 'The Dark Knight Rises' haven't even been released yet (wait one day for one) but are practically proof that 2012 is going to be an incredible year for movies, even after a somewhat slow start. Another reason this 12 month calender is going to make for some classic cinema is due to a lot of pleasant surprise films that really will rank among the best coming out right now.
Take last weeks comedy relief release of the surprisingly hilarious Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum comedy '21 Jump Street' for a great example. How about another? How about Academy certified but underrated lead leading man Mark Wahlberg? He's revealing something great. No don't worry we aren't talking about the same 'thing' as in 'Boogie Nights'...I think we've all seen enough of that. What I'm talking about is his new hit thriller; 'Contraband'.
Wahlberg is possessing another great film to add to his line of smuggled successes, that include the brilliant, pull no punches 'The Fighter', the formidable 'Four Brothers', the tide of 'A Perfect Storm', the straight-firing 'Shooter' , the hilarious 'The Other Guys' and his Oscar nominated turn in 'The Departed' with all those great actors around him. It's clear Wahlberg is a class in his own right. Those Marky Mark rapper days are long behind him, Wahlberg is a serious talent and those who don't see that seriously don't see movies. Once again he brings his brave and bold, no b.s., brawn with brains part to another blue-collar action thriller.
This really is thrilling too. It's rare these days that action thrillers are unpredictable and able to keep you on the edge of your seats, but this grimey and dark crime thriller is anything but generic. Genuinely this is one of the best and truly tense stories you'll be told in theatres all year. Wahlberg's character is on the straight and narrow, but this new life is on shallow ground when his wife's little brother gets in the kind of trouble you don't want with the kind of people you don't want to meet. Therefore in order to make things right, Wahlberg has to do the wrong thing and get back into the world of illegal contraband smuggling.
Wahlberg needs an even bigger boat as he sets sail on a cargo ship for the perfect storm of loyalty and double-crossing in all its tension and drama. As he looks to get into some funny money, there are little laughs afforded in a seriously desperate race against the wrong side of the law on a story that goes for broke and cashes in with substance and success.
The seemingly ageless and versatile Kate Beckinsale gives one of her most gritty and great performances to date standing by her man and looking out for her brother. While rising talent Ben Foster yet again shows why he's worthy of more attention than most establishing actors. His phone won't stop ringing after another great outing. J.K. Simmons and Mark's brother Robert Wahlberg also get in the way of things with some great performances but it's Giovanni Ribisi that almost steals the show. Just call this guy the new Woody Harrelson. A leading, classic character actor for our times with more to him. It's clear he's more than Phoebe's brother from 'Friends' these days. Looking even dirtier than he did on 'The Rum Diary', Ribisi is seriously sinister as a vile villain reeking of evil.
All in all this potent mix reveals a truly taunt and twisting tale of tension. It's one of those one and done films in the sense that you don't see anything coming as it gets better as the scenes and the stakes raise. As the plot thickens, your doubt if this picture is any good thins. It's the kind of film you wish you could watch again with a fresh mind. It's one of those raw but refreshing action movies that actually but the 'thrill' in 'thriller'. If you don't keep your eye out, this 'Contraband' may pass by unseen, but it's time you sniffed out something real in cinemas. Wahlberg makes his mark once again. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 17 March 2012
109 Minutes. Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Ellie Kemper, Rob Riggle & Ice Cube. Director: Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Screenplay: Michael Bacall
If you thought this modern action/comedy based on a T.V. show that made iconic actor Johnny Depp a teen idol wasn't going to live up to the legacy and hype, then I'm afraid you're wrong. If you thought Channing Tatum couldn't lead a picture that wasn't about lost love, then again I'm sorry you're wrong. If you thought a new slimmed down, Academy nominated Jonah Hill couldn't get much funnier than 'Superbad' then...yes you got it, wrong again. This is 'Superbad' with more balls...literally.
'21 Jump Street' makes the jump from the late eighties series with avenues of hilarious lines of comedy. Tatum and Hill turn out to have even more roads of talent then originally thought. With this, his legendary 'Superbad' mainstream debut, 'Get Him To The Greek' and so many more classic comedies under his new notched down belt, despite what critics thought, losing the weight and Justin Timberlake N*Sync 'fro has done nothing to hurt the laughs coming from Hill. There is a new King of Comedy for the Weezer generation...and his name is Jonah.
Channing Tatum also shows just how versatile he is. In between making indie-hits and winning the girls over in sloppy romantic comedies, Channing also shows he has the tongue to be a mainstream comedy success. Drawing just as many laughs as his punchline perfect partner. Tatum and Hill play so well off each other that what we're left with is a surprising hilarious buddy comedy which could make best friends with even the harshest cynic. Even with Chris Pine and Tom Hardy's recent smash, these two agents of 'Jump Street' raise the stakes. 'This Means War' indeed. Let the games begin.
To reveal anything about this film would be a massive spoiler alert, so let's just say its a surprising hilarious classic comedy that more than does justice to the original and does even more to its argument to be one of the best films of the year...even if it is early 2012 days. As these two cops go back to school and the drawing board of remakes (the film brilliantly parodies itself here), they take the comedy competition to class and task. As their old school days are out, the pair greet the new school generation with little glee, but make their mark, singing, dancing and free-basing.
There is hilarious support from Brie Larson, James' talented younger brother Dave Franco, (OK we ruined that one, but it isn't hard to tell) Ellie Kemper, the rib-tickling Rob Riggle and Ice Cube who slams a stereotype with some foot to the floor, formidable funny moments. Also from hallucinations to staged fights and sensationally silly set-pieces this is one entertaining coast through education. With pleasant and unpredictable surprises too, that we can't reveal too much into this is one refreshing modern movie. Someone spiked the punch and everything tastes better for it. Now we can't wait for when this street jumps to '22'. TIM DAVID HARVEY.